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  • Shawn Thornton

The Greatest Spiritual Growth Inhibitor

Friday - January 8th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 1:19-20


Human anger does not produce

the righteousness that God desires.

James 1:20b

In the 18th and 19th-centuries, many British philosophers thought that the diminishing effects of plagues, wars, famines, and natural disasters on the modern economies of Europe would lead to utopia for everyone. Socio-economic classes of people would be eliminated, and population growth would only fuel the utopian society.

Philosopher and writer Reverend Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) observed that improved conditions because of the decreasing impact of war and famine caused substantial population increases. In the first half of Malthus' life, the British empire's population had grown by 64%. Malthus also observed that the population boom (that at first improved the economy) over time could not provide enough food, shelter, healthy water, etc., for the increased population.

Malthus painted the counterintuitive picture that healthy growth would eventually lead to a trap that would condemn many to poverty, suffering, and even premature death. Unlike other philosophers of his day, Malthus could not see any utopia down the road. He even argued that plagues, famines, wars, and other threats to human life were in many ways good for society in the long haul. Population growth inhibitors like war and famine would be beneficial for society ultimately.

As we live out our Christian lives, there are critical inhibitors to our spiritual growth. Chapter one of the Book of James addresses one of those growth inhibitors for us as Christians. As you begin reading the book's opening verses, you assume that life's trials and difficulties are the most significant inhibitors to our spiritual growth. James actually identifies our problems as some of the things that can accelerate and deepen our growth the most.

While not as dark as Malthus' theories of population growth, seeing our toughest struggles as good for our growth is, like Malthus' theories around population, counterintuitive. James points out how life's trials can make us people of character by making us people of endurance and patience. Trials can actually be positive for us.

What then does James say can do the most damage to our progress forward in the Lord? Anger. What kind of anger? According to James 1:10-20, the greatest inhibitor to spiritual growth is anger that comes when we do not slow down, listen for understanding, and respond like Jesus to others. That kind of irritability thwarts the righteousness that God wants our lives to exhibit to others. "Human anger does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20b). Anger hinders our growth far more than our trials ever will.

Has your anger, irritability, or crankiness prohibited your spiritual growth? Have you been blaming the challenging circumstances you face in life for your spiritual apathy? Maybe it is time to look in the mirror to see the anger that thwarts you from growing in Christ.

Outbursts of rage and a constant spirit of irritability can hinder our spiritual growth faster than any trial in life!


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